DWP forced to defend cut to YOUR Universal Credit benefits

  • Post last modified:May 28, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Before voters head to the polls in the general election, another likely-to-be damning indictment of the Tories callous cuts to benefits will come to light. Specifically, the government must publish documents detailing the impacts of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) scrapping the Universal Credit uplift that it had introduced during the pandemic.

DWP Universal Credit uplift

In April 2020, the government increased the rate of Universal Credit by £20 a week. However, by October 2021, the Tories ditched the so-called DWP Universal Credit “uplift”.

Naturally, as the Canary consistently reported at the time, scrapping this would hit multiple marginalised groups the hardest. This included numerous warnings that it would further impoverish:

  • Almost 3.5 million children in households claiming the benefit.
  • Over a fifth of working-age families with children across the country on average. Moreover, in some constituencies, the cut would hit more than three-quarters of working-age families.
  • More than 660,000 low-paid keyworkers.

Predictably, despite these warnings from thinktanks, organisations, and campaigners alike, including footballer Marcus Rashford, the Tories ploughed ahead anyway. Moreover, as the Canary had also detailed, the DWP Universal Credit £20 uplift itself was already woefully inadequate.

Notably, a survey of claimants found the paltry increase to the already pitifully low benefit made little difference to social security claimants. In reality then, it didn’t actually do much to lift many claimants out of poverty.

Now, transparency laws will force the government to finally reveal the real-world impact that dropping its DWP Universal Credit uplift had.

ICO orders DWP to reveal report

Notably, the Tory government had previously produced an analysis assessing the impact of its decision to stop the uplift. In particular, this examined the impacts of extending the benefit increase – which would implicitly also reveal the impact of not doing so.

However, it originally refused to disclose this information via the Freedom of Information Act to the Mirror in 2023. As a result, the Mirror pursued this with the Information Commissioner’s Officer (ICO). As the outlet reported:

The government has refused to release an analysis examining the impact of not extending the support. But in a victory for the Mirror, the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) has now ordered the Treasury to disclose the details.

Of course, evading transparency laws has been a consistent past-time of successive Tory administrations. For instance, in November 2023, the Disability News Service finally won a protracted freedom of information battle over DWP Universal Credit. This was over another secret report the department had buried for four years on flaws in the DWP Universal Credit system harming vulnerable claimants.

Significantly, the Mirror reported that the ICO issued its decision notice just hours before Sunak called the election. In other words, this was another announcement the Tories could conveniently sweep under the rug of the sudden surge in election coverage.

DWP Universal Credit – a broken system

Given the numerous warnings on the cut’s impact, it’s not likely the report will show anything new. However, the information should always have been in the public domain. With the election incoming, revealing the after-effects of another callous Tory policy is vital now more than ever.

Despite this, neither major party who will ultimately run the country post-election has so far shown a shred of interest in supporting disabled people and those living in poverty.

As the Canary’s Rachel Charlton-Dailey recently pointed out, Labour has launched its campaign and it was tumbleweed on policies for disabled people. Currently, as she highlighted, it hasn’t issued any indication of improving the benefit system. Instead, its focus on “working people” plays into the continuity-Tory back to work blitz.

Moreover, as the Canary also underscored in March, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Liz Kendall has been all over this too.

Ultimately, the impact of the Tory’s cut should be known to the public.

However, while neither party appears to give a shit for disabled people and others its policies push into poverty, it’s a moot point.

Right now, it seems unlikely either will do away with the punitive, wholly inadequate DWP Universal Credit system as a whole – without which, there’ll be no meaningful change for the people its broken social security system has screwed over for years.

Feature image via ODN – DailyMotion

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